5 winners and 2 losers from the Patriots’ preseason victory over the Panthers

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The New England Patriots are in the victory column, topping the Carolina Panthers 20-10 in their second preseason game of the season. Mac Jones played a total of three series while a handful of other Patriot regulars played deep into the game.

Here’s who caught our eye Friday night for better or worse.

Winner: WR Lil’Jordan Humphrey. For the second game in a row, Humphrey was a playmaker on New England offense. He bagged five receptions for a 71-yard team, continuing to feast on the seam and center of the field. Humphrey’s playing skills also extended to special teams when he had one of the plays of the evening, throwing a punt back into the field of play that was knocked down at the four-yard line.

Humphrey has been coming on strong lately and has come to grips with a spot on the 53-man list. With his midfield playing prowess and 6-foot-4 frame, you might wonder if he could transition to a hybrid tight end, something Bill Belichick hinted at after the game.

Winners: LB Mack Wilson Sr. and L.B. Raekwon McMillan. The new Patriots linebackers got a lot of playing time on Friday-evening and were impressed. Wilson’s speed and physicality continue to blast all over the field. On one ride, he read Matt Corral’s eyes perfectly and nearly intercepted a double angled combo route. A few plays later, he gathered for the ball and helped Terrance Mitchell stop Rashard Higgins for the sticks in third place. Belichick called Wilson an “explosive” player who adds speed to defence, and he has consistently shown this off-season.

As for McMillan, he remains an important part of the team plan for this season. He demonstrated his athleticism Friday night by making six tackles and making life difficult for Carolina pass-catchers out of the backfield.

Loser: OL James Ferentz. Ferentz started with the right guard as New England advances around his worn-out attack line. It wasn’t a pretty night for the veteran. On the opening New England stage, Ferentz was blown off the line by Julian Stanford, leading to a looting of Mac Jones. Later in the match, he stopped a promising ride with a late hit on Kenny Robinson – this week’s Carolina instigator. Ferentz still looks set for the role of Ted Karras with his versatility across the offensive line, but it’s been a rough week.

Winner: CB Jonathan Jones. Much like he did in camp, Jones saw most of his shots at the cornerback for the Patriots. Jones held his own on a couple of third-down go routes, knocking a ball away from the 6-foot-5 Keith Kirkwood on one try. Jones has played himself in the part that helped create quality depth in the Patriots’ corner backroom.

Winner: The pass rush. The New England pass rush was called Friday night and registered five sacks and a handful of pressure. Josh Uche, who smoked sixth overall pick Ikem Ekwonu in a speed rush, and Anfernee Jennings continue to offer value around the rim.

Deathrich Wise Jr. continued to terrorize Carolina tackles by also beating Ekwonu for a sack. Ronnie Perkins took a sack and had a strong chase against Matt Corral early in the fourth quarter. DaMarcus Mitchell scored a sack and a forced fumble in the closing minutes that Sam Roberts recovered for a touchdown.

The Patriots showed a strong pressure pack Friday night and could have some hidden gems on the depth chart.

Loser: WR Tre Nixon. Nixon’s last stat line of six catches (team-high) for 56 yards may look promising, but the sophomore year receiver was at the end of some negative play for New England. To start the fourth quarter, Nixon was unable to land a deep touchdown from Bailey Zappe. It wasn’t a perfect pass and there was some substance, but it was a ball that a player fighting for a roster would prefer to land on. He was also the intended recipient of Zappe’s pick-six, and he didn’t seem fully expecting the ball to come his way. With another strong play from Lil’Jordan Humphrey, Nixon may have stepped back on the depth chart.

Other players worth mentioning include Ty Montgomery, who is still involved in the crime. Montgomery was on the field during their first scoring drive, finding pay on his own and making the most of several touches. Kevin Harris and JJ Taylor, holding on to the running backs, caused some outburst from the backfield in the second half. Nelson Agholor continued his strong week by bringing in a 45-yard completion from Mac Jones.

In the turnover division, Joshuah Bledsoe forced a fumble while Shaun Wade and Brenden Schooler pulled in interceptions. Schooler and fellow UDFA DaMarcus Mitchell also opened the game on the starting kick-off unit. At the other end of the spectrum is Bailey Zappe, who threw an evil-looking pick-six.

Nick Folk went 1-for-1 in field goals (38 yards) and extra runs. Tristan Vizcaino scored one field goal from 51 yards and one extra point, but also pushed a 53-yard try far to the right.

The Valley Voice
The Valley Voicehttp://thevalleyvoice.org
Christopher Brito is a social media producer and trending writer for The Valley Voice, with a focus on sports and stories related to race and culture.

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